This Saturday, September 22 is our nation’s 46th annual National Hunting and Fishing Day (NHFD). As Co-Chair of the Oklahoma Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus and member of the 48-state National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses, my fellow Caucus Co-Chairs Senator J.J. Dossett, Representative Mike Sanders, Representative Johnny Tadlock and I are proud to celebrate the time-honored traditions of hunting and angling. We are also pleased to recognize the historical and ongoing contributions of our state’s original conservationists – sportsmen and women.
Oklahoma hunters and anglers are the primary source of conservation funding for the Sooner State. Through the purchase of licenses, tags and stamps, and self-imposed excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, archery equipment, fishing tackle, motorboat fuel, and other equipment, hunters and anglers drive conservation funding in Oklahoma and the US through the American System of Conservation Funding, a “user pays public benefits” system. Last year alone, this system contributed $25 million, while hunting and fishing licenses brought an additional $19 million to fund state conservation efforts through the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC). All Oklahomans benefit from these funds through improved access to public lands, public shooting ranges, improved soil and water quality, habitat restoration, fish and wildlife research, private and public habitat management, hunter education, boat access area construction, and many other ODWC projects.
Hunting and angling are also significant economic drivers for our state. Oklahoma’s 780,000+ sportsmen and women spend over $1.5 billion per year on their outdoor pursuits, supporting roughly 23,500 jobs in the state and contributing more than $143 million in state and local taxes.
Hunting produces countless benefits for our state’s conservation funding and economy; it is important that Oklahoma sportsmen and women invest time and effort to encourage future participation in these time-honored traditions. This effort to increase hunter participation is called recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3). Over 450 individual R3 programs nationwide have had regional success. These programs, as well as many others, need your support and it’s going to take the involvement of every Oklahoma hunter to ensure the future of the outdoor pursuits we celebrate on NHFD. Our hunting and angling heritage should not be taken for granted, and encouraging the next generation of Oklahoma’s sportsmen and women to be involved in the outdoors will help ensure the conservation of our abundant natural resources for the future.
More information on National Hunting and Fishing Day is available at www.NHFDay.org or on the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation website at www.congressionalsportsmen.org/policies/state/national-hunting-and-fishing-day.